The 2003 peanut growing season is considered the benchmark for perfection. It all lined up that year. It did again in 2012 with near perfect growing conditions across the Peanut Belt. But this year, growers had powerhouse varieties and other tools to create what will for now be the new benchmark in U.S. peanut production. Records were shattered.
The maximum temperature, for example, for both years was cooler than normal, averaging around 89 degrees for both years. It normally is in the 91 to 92 degree range. And on the minimum average, it was lower, too, or in the 68 to 69 degrees range instead of in the normal 71 to 72 degree range.
"Now you may say 'Well that's just two degrees,' but two to three degrees has a tremendous bearing when it is an average,'" said John Beasley, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist. "This is important because the blooming, fruiting, or the pegging of the plants, is much more efficient in those slightly cooler temperatures."
And though there were some periods of drought, for the most part, he said, rainfall hit at just the right times for the 2012 crop, just like in 2003.
Georgia's average yield is now pegged to be well over two tons per acre, smashing the record average yield set just a few years ago by as much 600 pounds. There are reports of some Georgia peanut fields, not small fields, averaging four tons per acre. Unheard of yields and definitely pushing into new territory when it comes to the yield potential of the newer varieties, but mostly the widely planted Georgia-06 G.
To see the 2012 Georgia peanut harvest in action and Southern Farmer editor Brad Haire speak more about this year's monster peanut crop with Beasley, click here.